A visit to Pier 24 in San Francisco

Pier 24 is an amazing photography gallery down on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. You have to make a reservation to enter the gallery on their website and then you only get a 2 hour window for your visit. While I wasn’t sure about this policy when I missed out on my preferred day to visit, I was extremely grateful for the policy once I was inside. The space only had a a few people in it and so you got to really spend time with the various artist and their work without many distractions from other people.

I found out about Pier 24 from Todd Hido when he did a portfolio review of my work earlier in the year. He was preparing his work for a show at the gallery, and he gave me all the details about the space and artist who show there. I am really glad that he let me know about the gallery. It was a great way to spend a few hours. Although, if you aren’t a big time photography nerd, you might only need 30-40 minutes to see everything in the gallery.

The gallery is huge and takes up the entire pier. The space is divided into a bunch of rooms that house the various artist or projects. There are no image descriptions on the walls so you are given a book with all the information about the artist and images. I did like how the book and gallery were organized. Each room had a sticker on the floor that corresponded to a page in the book. This setup made it really easy to look up any information that you might want.

Todd’s work is a part of the show titled HERE which is a collection of artist who are local to the San Francisco area. I was absolutely amazed at the breadth and depth of the work being shown. In total there are 34 artist and over 700 images being show. There is work from Carleton Watkins, Muybridge, Edward Weston and Dorthea Lange up through more modern artist like Richard Misrach and Todd Hido. The types of work vary in size (from small Polaroids to several feet) and process (alternative, color and black and white).

I really enjoyed all the images but a few sort of stuck out. Some of the baseball images by Stephen Shore as well as seeing some of the original prints by Weston and Ruth Bernhard were really cool. The images from Watkins were an amazing look at the sierra nevada mountains. There were also three images by Misrach that stood out. The images of the Golden Gate Bridge were amazing to see printed full size since I had only ever seen them in book format. It was also great to see Todd’s work showcased after listening to him talk about his plans. Finally, I really liked the variety of presentations for the various projects. It was nice to see a gallery respect the nature of the work as intended by the artist and having the space to showcase that vision.

If you are ever in San Francisco I recommend you set aside a few hours to visit Pier 24.

November 1, 2011

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